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1998 Reebok Holiday Prep Classic:
Stratford High (Texas) Profile--(Dec. 13, 1998)

Normally we wouldn't profile teams from out of state, but then the Reebok Holiday Prep Classic manages to pit a bunch of out of state teams against local SoCal talent. One such matchup which is a possibility is the Stratford High in Houston, Texas, which just might manage a second round game against Westchester.

This profile was written by a Stratford fan, Farbod Tahbaz who is at least someone a heck of a lot more familiar with them than we are. . . and that wouldn't be too hard, since we've never seen these guys before.  Anyway, this should give Westchester a fair idea of who their own first game might be against in Game 23, at 4:35 p.m. in the Cimarron-Memorial Main Gym on Saturday, December 19, 1998.  

Stratford High School (Houston, TX)
Mascot: Spartans (green and white)
Coach: Bob Latham

10 Chris Dillard (5'-10" Sr. PG)
12 Brandon Urech (5'-10" Jr. PG)
14 J.P. Whalen (6'-1" Sr. SG)
20 Darren Williams (6'-0" Sr. SG)
22 Kyle Kafka (6'-1" Sr. SG)
24 Larry Curry (6'-1" Sr. G)
31 Scott Ayers (6'-5" So. F)
32 Drew Long (6'-2" Jr. PG/SG/SF)
33 Dylan Leal (6'-4" Jr. SG/SF)
34 Matt Weigle (6'-4" Sr. SG/SF)
40 John Rhodes (6'-1" Sr. SF)
42 Brandon Dillard (6'-6" Jr. F/C)
44 Mike Ridgway (6'-6" Jr. PF/C)
50 Jordan Guidry (6'-5" Sr. PF)

Stratford is coached by Bob Latham, an experienced coach who believes defense is the team's first priority. In Texas, Stratford consistently makes the playoffs each year, and they are capable of winning against any team. They may not excite you on the floor as much as other teams given their slow-paced style of play, but that's been one of the keys to their success.

Both PG's (Urech and C.Dillard) are excellent ball handlers and can keep control of the ball against the press. Neither are big time scorers, but they dish the ball well and play hard-nosed defense, and can both hit free throws when needed. The key players for Stratford are juniors Drew Long and Mike Ridgway. Drew is the heart of the team, presents every aspect of the game at only 6'-2". He can dribble, pass, shoot, rebound, and block shots, all of this with an ailing knee that has stayed healthy since the start of this year's season. If Drew's knee does go out though, Stratford won't really look very competitive, but as long as he manages to stay injury-free, the team should be capable of competing.  Perhaps the best part of Drew's game is his ability to lead and take control, what you would expect from an experienced junior.

Mike Ridgway is the banger and big man of the team. He's a big-time scorer inside and can also play on the wing if necessary. He can beat taller players with his speed to the hole,  or force smaller players inside, and he's a good enough outside shooter that he can also open up the inside by forcing the defense to the perimeter.  Mike is probably the strongest guy on the team, and will pull down boards and get his share of blocked shots. Brandon Dillard also adds some size, but he is   fairly fragile and not really a post player. He does have tremendous leaping ablility, and he's deceptive, because he doesn't look all that athletic. Ridgeway is also a good shooter and he brings a lot to both ends of the floor. 

Dylan Leal is the three point specialist for the team, he's a bit of a streaky shooter, and even though he's very quick and can jump well, don't expect him to go inside too often.  Matt Weigle and Larry Curry round out the rest of the rotation on the team, as the rest of the bench usually stays seated.

Overall, Stratford is a very quick, aggressive defensive team whose usual game plan is to get easy baskets by forcing turnovers. They don't put up 60+ points very often, but neither do many of their opponents. They run the half-court offense very well and if they can get their opponent to play their style and they control the tempo of the game, they are a dangerous team.  Stratford may have difficulty against teams who like to run an up-tempo, fast-paced run and gun style of offense, but we look for Stratford to do well in the early rounds, possibly getting a win against their first round opponent, N.Surrey (Game 1, Bracket I),  and if they get past Surrey, the game against Westchester should at least be fun to watch.

The Swish Award
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